Acts 5: 1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)
5 But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. 4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”
5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. 6 Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”
9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”
10 Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
Ananias. A man who, with his wife Sapphira, believed the Good News of Jesus Christ and were part of the early church. Perhaps they were included in the 5,000+ who heard Peter preach the gospel after Pentecost? Perhaps they hadn’t yet received water baptism before he and John were brought before the council, arrested and put in prison? Perhaps they hadn’t received the baptism of the Holy Spirit by fire? Perhaps their story would have been different if they had?
But those chapters were never written.
Immediately after Ananias & Sapphira’s brief introduction in chapter 5 verse 1 of the book of Acts, we realize that Ananias was greedy for acknowledgement & affirmation. Upon the sale of his property, he also became greedy for the cash he earned. As Peter explained to him, it was HIS land to keep or sell. It was HIS money to keep or give away. But he made a decision in his heart which would cost him his life- and the life of his wife.
He chose to fear man instead of fearing God.
Ananias wanted to appear generous, like his fellow believer, Joseph, who had sold a field he owned and given ALL the money to the apostles so that they could distribute it to those in need (Acts 4:36-37). Ananias wasn’t prompted by the Holy Spirit to sell his land. Ananias was prompted by Satan to be like Joseph. He has tempted by the lust of the eyes, flesh and pride of life. A thought captured his mind; sell the land, give some of the money to church leaders, and appear “righteous” like Joseph. Panic invaded his emotions; what if I need some of the money to provide for me and my family?! He made a willful choice; seek approval & affirmation from the apostles by giving part of the profit to the church and keep the rest.
Then he obtained his wife’s consent!!!!
Sapphira made the fatal decision to fear man instead of fearing God. Whether she was afraid to tell her husband “no” because of religious customs or societal pressure, she chose to fear his wrath, rejection, or withdrawal of provision instead of fearing God. She gave consent to lie- to him, and herself.
They lied to the Holy Spirit!
They lied to the church!
Both fell short of the glory of God.
Both died suddenly.
Both were an example to the believers.
If only they were the one couple in church history who sought acknowledgement and affirmation from religious leaders. If only they were the only husband and wife duo who wanted to appear generous, but were actually greedy.
Men still scheme and devise plans to look righteous. Women still give consent to lies. They may not die a physical death in front of others, but death comes non-the-less. Decay follows as Satan slithers his way through families and causes disunity amongst believers.
What are we to do, then?
Scripture is clear: confront the sin. If a man or woman fails to confess, the young men need to get up, wrap them in a sheet and bury them! (see also Matthew 18: 15-20) The church in America has become experts in sweeping sin under the rug. God is not fooled. May the Holy Spirit fall on the bride of Christ with all-consuming fire, causing us to confess, repent, and once more fear God. Only then can we be equipped to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation so that others will believe & accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and go, make disciples.